Friday, January 21, 2011

Recipe for Shrimp and Macaroni Salad

Whenever I asked my dad what I should make for a family party, this Shrimp and Macaroni Salad was always his choice.

(In memory of my wonderful father, I'm featuring some of his favorite recipes this week while I spend time with my family.)  This Shrimp and Macaroni Salad is a dish I've made for family parties for more than 20 years, and definitely my father's all-time favorite dish.  I made some Shrimp and Macaroni Salad this week as we gathered to talk about our dad, and I'll be making it again in a few weeks when my brother Mark hosts his annual Superbowl party.  What makes the salad so full of flavor is the idea of using a little of the shrimp "juice" saved from draining the frozen shrimp and adding it to the mayo-based dressing, plus the flavor boost of celery seeds.

Notice that the title of this recipe is Shrimp and Macaroni Salad, not Macaroni and Shrimp Salad. Using Dreamfield's Macaroni and having less macaroni in proportion to the other ingredients makes this salad more South Beach Diet friendly. There's still a significant amount of mayo, but in my family this is a "once in a while treat" that's perfect for parties. Keep reading to see how to make this favorite party salad, and check out the other ideas for party foods after the recipe.

I make this with medium-sized shrimp cut in pieces or small frozen "salad style" shrimp.  Whether you use small or medium shrimp, thaw them  be sure to catch the "juice" when you drain the shrimp. 

If you're using larger shrimp, cut them in bite-sized pieces.  (These photos are twice the amount of the recipe, when I made a big batch of the salad for a family gathering.)

Put the shrimp "juice" in a small pan and cook until it's slightly reduced.  Don't worry if the liquid isn't completely clear; the small bits of shrimp add a lot of flavor to the dressing.

Cook the macaroni according to package direction and drain well.  (I use Dreamfields macaroni to make the salad South Beach Diet friendly, and even the non-dieters in my family love this type of pasta.)

When the pasta is cool, mix together the shrimp, chopped celery, and sliced green onions. (Remember, this is twice the amount of the recipe.)

Whisk together the mayo, concentrated shrimp "juice", lemon juice, and celery seed to make the dressing.

Mix the desired amount of dressing into the salad.  You may not need all the dressing if you prefer your salads more dry.  Chill for a few hours to develop the flavors.  This keeps in the refrigerator for a few days, but it probably won't last that long!

Shrimp and Macaroni Salad
(Makes 4-6 servings, recipe created by Kalyn years ago and later updated for the South Beach Diet.)

1 cup (dry) Dreamfields macaroni
2 cups thawed frozen precooked shrimp, cut in 1/2" pieces (save some of the juice)
1 cup diced celery
1/4 cup sliced green onions
salt and pepper to taste

2/3 cup mayo (or use 1/3 cup light mayo and 1/3 cup regular mayo, do not use fat free)
1 T reduced shrimp "juice" (Liquid saved when draining shrimp which has been boiled to concentrate the flavor)
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp. whole celery seed

Thaw shrimp overnight in refrigerator, keeping it in the bag so you can catch the "juice" when you open it. (In a pinch you can also thaw it inside the bag in a bowl of barely warm water.) Drain shrimp well, reserving the liquid that accumulates in bag. (I usually dry shrimp with a paper towel if they're quite wet.)

Put liquid drained from shrimp in small saucepan and simmer until reduced by at least half. (This will concentrate the shrimp flavor and evaporate the water.)

Cook macaroni in large pot of salted, boiling water for about 9-10 minutes, or until soft but still slightly chewy. Be careful not to overcook. Drain macaroni and cool, but don't rinse.

While macaroni cooks, dice shrimp, celery, and green onions and put in bowl with a snap-on lid. Mix dressing ingredients together. When macaroni is cool, mix it into shrimp mixture in bowl, then gently fold in dressing. (You may not need all the dressing if you prefer your salads to be more dry.) Season to taste with salt and pepper. This is best if chilled a few hours before serving. Will keep in the refrigerator for a few days.

I have made this with small "salad " shrimp or larger medium shrimp, but I greatly prefer the flavor and texture of the larger shrimp. I cut each medium shrimp into about 4 pieces. You could add other ingredients like olives, diced red peppers, cucumbers, or hard-boiled eggs to this recipe.

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South Beach Suggestions:
This salad would be phase two or three for the South Beach Diet, and it's a "once in a while treat" due to amount of mayo.

More Ideas for Party Foods from Kalyn's Kitchen:
Mediterranean Salad with Hummus Dressing
Black Bean, Rice, and Cilantro Salad
Pasta Salad with Italian Sausage, Zucchini, Red Pepper, and Olives
Heart-Healthy Shrimp dip Served with Veggie Dippers
Tuna Mousse or Spuma di Tonno
White Bean and Artichoke Dip with Whole Wheat Tortilla Chips
Diet Friendly Ranch-Style Dip: Greek Yogurt and Cottage Cheese Dip with Dill
Cilantro Salsa Dip
Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto or Spread
Stuffed Mushrooms with Feta and Kalamata Olives

Party Food Ideas from Other Blogs:
(Recipes from other blogs may not always be South Beach Diet Friendly, check ingredients.)
Dip Into Something Nutritious on Superbowl Sunday from BlogHer (lots of recipe links)
7 Layer Bean Dip from Simply Recipes
Tasty Veggie Dips from Cook and Eat
Holy Edamole from Running with Tweezers
Hot Swiss Chard Artichoke Dip from Farmgirl Fare
Looking for Love Dip from Homesick Texan
Nutty Pumpkin Dip from Desert Candy
Hot Spinach Dip from Delish
Green Goddess Dip with Crudite from Well Fed
Seven-Layer Dip, food-blogger style from Married with Dinner
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More to Chew On:


  1. A perfect warm weather salad!
    Now to just convince mon mari to clean all those shrimp...
    Unfortunately here I can only get cooked shrimp in the shells - not raw and not cleaned.
    And, no, I have no clue why...
    My hands itch when I clean them so I can't do it ...I'll bribe him with something - maybe I'll let him eat more of the salad...

  2. ah yes, I second katie on tt, what a great spring to summer time medley, and you got shrimps too..this I can do :)

  3. I like the sounds of this. Another recipe to put down on my list.


  4. Katie, make him peel them, it will be worth it. I wonder why they don't sell shrimp there without the shells. Interesting cultural difference.

    Melting wok, this is a big favorite it my family.

    Paz, hi! I'm glad I made your list. I'm linking to one of your recipes tomorrow!

  5. Hiya Kayln -this salad is really bringing back some memories... it's exactly something my family from Iowa would serve at a potluck and it looks wooooonderful. this may sound just plain wrong but maybe I'll try tofu instead of the shrimp, just for myself - not so much for my family.

  6. Vanessa, I posted this recipe on my family blog and one of my nieces wrote a comment saying how she had fond memories of it, but she always picked out the shrimp because they were just "too crunchy." So tofu would work for her too!

  7. Comments before this one were from early 2007 when I first posted this recipe.

  8. I have got to get a protective cover for my keyboard if you're going to keep posting those delicious photos! I seriously want to lick my computer screen sometimes. :)
    We're making Hot Browns for dinner. I'll try to remember to get a photo of them.

  9. Yum! Looks great. I've been making this for years but not with celery seeds....just a little celery salt, I'm looking forward to trying your version.
    Great blog!

  10. Neato, never seen shrimp or macaroni salad like this...looks great!

  11. Oh Kalyn, what a wonderful salad. Just looking at the colours..makes me hungry.

  12. macaroni and shrimps... sounds a delicate idea. i'd love to use lots of basils in it and a good drizzle of olive oil and shaved parmesan. good idea, Kalyn!!

  13. Kalyn, this looks great and I would recommend using quinoa pasta to make it even healthier. While even the high-protein or whole wheat pastas seem to make my husband's blood sugar spike,we have found that quinoa pasta does not have that effect!

  14. This looks amazing! Am I blind? Where do I find nutritional info?

  15. Anonymous, I chose the South Beach Diet to manage my weight because I don't want to have to calculate calories, points, or carbs, so if you want the nutritional information you'll have to calculate that yourself. I do have information with every recipe telling what phase of South Beach it's suitable for.

  16. I am loving these recipes as a tribute to your father, but I have to admit, there is certainly a theme there. It seems he really loved his shrimp! As do I, so no complaining here, just thought it was cute to point out.

  17. Oh yes, this is a good one! I'm sure you're dad is smiling to see this recipe featured.

  18. How delicious! I wish it was closer to summer so I could fully enjoy this dish!

  19. Your dad and I must be kindred spirits. I, too, love shrimp and macaroni salad. My husband is allergic to shrimp, so when I make it, it's even a bigger treat. (I love shrimp.) I like to add a lot of crunch from celery too.

    For me, shrimp salad is a little slice of heaven.

  20. Kalyn, this is a complete meal. My daughter would love it.

  21. I've never had shrimp salad in my whole life! Colorful, flavorful, I must make that...


  22. Food is never just food. It is a reflection of our lives, and our families, too!

    What a great tribute to his memory to feature some of his favorites ~

    Your dad was a lucky man to have you for a daughter!


  23. Wonder how this would be with Rotini pasta in place of the elbows. I can only find Dreamfields in Rotini or Angelhair. Gonna try it with the Rotini. =)

  24. I think Rotini would be fine for this. Be careful not to overcook the pasta though, especially with Rotini.

  25. This is fantastic! There's a local place that serves a wonderful crab macaroni salad, and I've tried hard to replicate it and have never been successful. This salad is almost exactly like the crab mac, and the next time I make it, I'm going to use crab meat.

  26. Stephanie, this is a huge fave in my family. Would love to hear how it turns out with the crab. I'd love that myself.

  27. How cute this salad inspires so many family memories. Doesn't all food? My mom makes a similar version and I can't get enough of it!

  28. Heidi, I've made this for family parties for so many years, now people just expect me to bring it!

  29. It so tasty. I got a lot of compliments when I brought them to a potluck.


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